By Eric Pankoke on Wed, 10/17/2012
If I had to speculate about what kind of twisted game the little girl from Finding Nemo might dream up to play with her fish, this would probably be it. If you have any objections to animal cruelty, even if it’s only electronic, you might not appreciate this game. Along the way poor Yello will get spiked, frozen, torched and all around beaten up, even though ultimately you’re “kindly” returning him to his bowl. The rest of you that can deal with that should actually get a kick out of this game. “Stretch and launch” physics games have become a dime a dozen on the App Store, but ones like Saving Yello still manage to make the genre fun.
Your goal in each of the 45 levels this game currently contains is to get Yello from his starting point to the fish bowl somewhere in the level using the limited number of tails (turns) you are provided. Now before you wonkily wonder why there are so many fish bowls in this house, consider that the torturous child is probably moving it from spot to spot as they are setting up the obstacles. Anyway, besides simply getting to the bowl you have one other objective: destroy as much as you can. Blocks are good, but toys like dolls, cars and other things are even better. You get bonuses for multiples of the same toy, and your final score on a level determines whether you get 1, 2 or 3 stars.
Fortunately, your amazing propensity for being tossed around the room isn’t the only thing to help you make it through each level. You’ll be able to get power ups like fire and ice that last for a couple of rounds and work on certain objects to quickly clear them from the playing field. If you prefer a one time demonstration grab a stick of dynamite in your mouth and decimate everything you contact with when landing. Other special items include hooks that let you swing for extra distance on your toss and spiked balls that temporarily give you the ability to stick to certain walls. These extras are great if you can get them, and sometimes even required to pass a level, but don’t struggle to retrieve them at the risk of running out of moves to complete the level.
To launch poor Yello you just grab his tail and pull in the direction you want him to fly. You’ll know you’ve stretched him to capacity when his eyes bulge out of his head. For the most part that’s your control in the game, though for a couple seconds after impact you can tap Yello to have him flop around and cause more destruction. You just need to be careful because tapping can inadvertently lead to accidentally launching him again and wasting a turn. Seems like that would be awkward to pull off, but I’ve done it. There are times where it seems like it’s hard to get hold of his tail, and occasionally it can be challenging to launch him at full force depending on how close he is to the bottom of the level.
Besides the interesting power ups, the aesthetics are what really make this game. The backgrounds are a bit bland, with lifeless wallpaper and boring bricks. On the other hand, the foreground items are colorful and nicely detailed. More importantly, though, is the animation and wonderful expressions that Yello has. He’s a delight to watch, when you’re not feeling bad about the tortured look that is often on his face. The sound effects do a great job of enhancing the cartoon like world the visuals have created. Besides being amused by Yello himself, I like the fact that the different toys actually have distinct sounds when you destroy them. The music is decent, though the same theme is used throughout every level set.
As the App Store continues to grow every genre gets increasingly clustered with games that feel exactly the same. Thankfully there are still games like Saving Yello that do a sufficient job of standing out. The game has decent level design, cool power ups, and a great visual and audio presence. The controls can occasionally be picky, but for the most part they function flawlessly. If you haven’t grown tired of the “launch something to destroy stuff” motif yet, Saving Yello is a nice addition to your collection.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPad running iOS 5.1.1.